Snap, the owning company of social media app Snapchat announced their next iteration of Spectacle glasses which harness AR tech with real-time information.
The new shades are a follow-up to three versions of Spectacles, first designed and marketed in 2016 to give users a new way to share Snapchat posts. Each version of the Spectacles upgraded with improvements to photo quality and video definitions, while they were directed paired with the social media app. Under the glasses, users with Spectacles had their own first person perspective with capturing anything they saw from their angles. Some of these ideas with Spectacles blended a social media camera under a fashionable lens, while giving users a “take what you see” feature inspired by DSLR viewfinders.
But the fourth iteration of Spectacles is suggested to be a ground-up remake, first introduced at the company’s own Snap Partner Summit. According to CEO Evan Spiegel, the company and Snapchat are doubling down on their experiments which started with face filters and AR features. The Spectacles would take on a compact and stylish build through a partnership with Ray Ban to help normalize the look and feel of an AR device. In turn, the new Spectacles would do more than create nicer Snapchat posts. Dual 3D stereoscopic lens, extended field-of-view for projecting real-time information and an upgraded HD camera are a few of the upgraded which add more functionality.
The Spectacles were teased at the end of Snap’s event, but it prototype showed off an 80s-inspired design which used sharp edges and full black body to fit most wearers. The larger lens gives users full view for information while thicker parts of its Spectacles would store the battery and processors. But there’s a catch to using these new Spectacles, which comes with capturing photos and videos with 30 minutes of power at a time. It’s a compromise which comes from packing the AR technology into a smaller frame – something other AR integrated devices including the HoloLens or Quest 2 have at the cost of a bigger design.
The new Spectacles will feature their own 6DoF (six-degrees-of-freedom) inside-out tracking, so information can properly pop-up as users move around. As stated by Spiegel, the glasses can be used indoors and outdoors to fit any Snapchat-worthy situation. For clarity, the glasses can use up to 2000 nits of brightness under its 30-minute battery life. The visuals come together with two RGB cameras and four microphones. Two stereo speakers help users listen to information and text-to-speech items (leaving the door open for accessibility and using Spectacles for hearing impaired). On the right side, a touchpad is added in for easy navigation and to control the headset without taking out your phone.
In a brief hands-on, Spiegel showed off its touchpad, which spins the familiar wheel of filters from the Snapchat app. Users can choose one and project AR elements like alien plants and animated characters which interact with their real hands. A small button to the right of Spectacles can scan an environment to calibrate space in a room/area. Holding it would open up a voice assistant, where users can play games or activate other AR features. Users can also specifically select Snapchat users and stories to send their visuals to as a regular post.
Snap’s AR-based Spectacles are under research and development, while a select group of creators are testing them around the world. No release window or public marketing info has been shared yet.